Kerry targets Bush over Halliburton

Aug. 12, 2004 at 11:16 AM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- Democrat John Kerry will use the controversy around the Halliburton oil service company as a plank in his campaign against U.S. President George Bush.

Kerry senior adviser Tad Devine said research from focus groups indicates it was a "top of mind" issue for voters, concerned with reports the company inadequately accounted for work in Iraq and Kuwait worth several billion dollars.

This month, Halliburton agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle charges arising from a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into accounting practices during the time when Vice President Dick Cheney led the company.

Defending itself, a Halliburton spokesman told the Financial Times it was a "convenient target" for Bush administration opponents.

"Only in an election year, when Halliburton is being covered in a political context ... does a (Pentagon) audit dispute become a news story," the spokesman said.

The company has also been hit by a class-action lawsuit by shareholders alleging accounting fraud.

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